As the war for talent intensifies, unicorn founders are rallying up to invest in skilling start-ups with an unsaid expectation of calling dibs over graduates from these companies.

Earlier this week, two skilling and reskilling start-ups — Stoa School and Masai School — raised angel funding from a clutch of start-up founders. Both these start-ups run short boot-camp like skilling courses and have proved to be a hiring funnel for many start-ups in India.

Stoa School offers a six-month part-time MBA program for professionals to join and grow in business management roles. The company raised $1.5 million seed funding from about 17 start-up founders including Nithin Kamath (Co-Founder, Zerodha), Kunal Shah (Founder, CRED), Gagan Biyani (Co-Founder, Udemy), Richa Kar (Co-Founder, Zivame) and Pravin Jadhav (CEO, Raise; ex-CEO, Paytm Money) among others.

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Similarly, Masai School offers six- to seven-month-long courses in full stack web development, android development, UI and UX etc to anyone who has passed class 12. The company raised an undisclosed amount in angel funding from 21 start-up founders such as CRED’s Kunal Shah, Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm, Delhivery’s Mohit Tandon, and Amit Kumar Agarwal and Akhil Gupta of NoBroker among others.

Soft edge in hiring talent

Raj Kunkolienkar, co-founder of Stoa School, told BusinessLine , “The fight for talent is so real that at this point, it just does not suffice paying a hiring fee. You also have to stake your claim, and in a way be the first in the line to hire the best talent. That is the reason why we’ve seen founders go on and even invest in skilling companies as it gives them that soft edge to scoop up talent.”

Adding to this, co-founder and CEO of Masai School, Prateek Shukla, noted that talent crunch is a far bigger problem than any kind of crunch that these start-ups are facing today. “This is also the basic reason why we were able to speak to a lot of these founders and get them to invest; because we all know that finding good talent is where all these companies struggle in some way or the other,” he added.

No desire to create pipeline

Shukla also noted that one aspect of these investments is that this is a business development exercise for both parties and there is an unsaid expectation that these companies will hire from Masai School. However, the company does not intend to create an entry route where only their investors get to hire on day one of the placements and will focus on getting the best possible job options for the students.

Also see: Is Indian start-up space in a funding bubble?

CEO of fintech start-up Raise and former CEO of Paytm Money, Pravin Jadhav, who is an investor in Stoa School and has hired from them in the past, said, “We stumbled upon Stoa School while looking for talent in Mumbai. As it was the pandemic, we could not move to any other city and the talent in Mumbai is much more scarce than what it is in Bengaluru. Which is when we reached out to Stoa and even hired some people from their initial batch who were available in Bombay.” However, he added that his investment in the company does not give them an edge in hiring from Stoa School.

War for talent

Further, Amit Kumar Agarwal of NoBroker also noted that he doesn’t see an advantage in terms of getting access to better talent because he has invested in the company in personal capacity. However, Agarwal added that NoBroker has hired talent from Masai School and he was impressed by the rigorous hiring process which ensures that their graduates are hungry for career growth and learning, making them great potential employees.

In recent months, war for talent has pushed start-ups to come up with attractive joining bonuses, benefits like BMWs, tech gadgets and three-day work weeks. Now, angel rounds in skilling start-ups appears to be the next trend.